Old gloves and new shoes…

Roughly a year ago, I sat in a room and wondered about things to come and the prospects I would be faced with, living in new and unfamiliar territory. It turned out that the most surprising thing about the experience was how thoroughly unsurprising it was! Sure there was the whole constant electricity and more than proficient public transportation thing going on, but I was almost unprepared for the completely ordinary existence I found myself falling into as a student in Brum. From time to time, I would be asked questions like, “Are you going back?” “WHY are you going back?” and so on, and I maintained a position that home would always be Naija and I just couldn’t leave it alone.

The more I said it out loud, and the more I thought about it, the more I believed in my conviction to stay the course of ‘Naija for life’ no matter what. I’ve been back almost a month now, and what can I say…? It feels like I never left, but at the same time, I find myself stopping to make sure I’m actually here every now and again. There’s the old adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and it definitely applies here. Sometimes, I feel like I’m staring at a mirage and every so often I’ll catch a glimpse of the real image hiding behind it, but by and large, I cannot quite see the whole picture.

Although there have been some major changes in the last one year, it all feels so familiar that I could trick myself into believing that I never actually travelled if I tried hard enough. The greatest lesson from this entire year has been that a lot of what we think matters, is shaped by our own view of the world around us and how we react to events we are confronted with. Of course, I loved my time away and I met people I hope I will continue to call friends for the rest of my existence on this rock, but alas! it is good to be home.

The fastest gunslinger there ever was…

 

Here I am, sitting in a corner of the University of Birmingham library attempting (unsuccessfully) to make some headway on my dissertation. I am once again struck by the fact that time waits for no man and as they say, change is the only constant in life. A year ago, I would have been at work right now, listening to some music and probably re-writing some office policies because I was about to leave for a fun year of schooling and general ‘funnery’. A year ago, I would also probably have been biting my fingernails because I hadn’t gotten my visa yet and telling myself everything would be fine. A year ago, I would have been fielding calls from my dad asking me if I was sure I had done everything I needed to do for my application and offering to move heaven and earth to make my silly dream of doing my masters degree at the UoB come true. Say what you like about Actor, but he had a way of causing simultaneous feelings of PANIC and immense calm in almost any situation. The first time I told him I wanted to do my masters degree, you’d think I’d told him I was running away to join a group of travelling mormons who happened to belong to a devil worshiping cult (take a minute and picture that if you will…). But in the end, he worked doubly hard to make it happen because when it came down to it, there was no calling that any of his children could answer which would not receive his unconditional support.

I started this post thinking about the swiftness of life and how the world continues spinning in spite of our own mini disasters. It seemed like I had forgotten to keep moving for a while because some seemingly insurmountable (and completely invisible) obstacle had come between me and my goals. But thinking about how much time has passed and how quickly too, I realise now that I may have slowed down for a while but the world in its entirely objective manner continued to turn and time continued to pass, so that I opened my eyes and a year has passed without me noticing it.

And once again, I am in the midst of a new kind of panic brought on by the fact that I have embraced procrastination much too happily over the last year and forgotten that while Actor may have given me his unconditional support, there was and will always be an expectation of excellence reserved solely for his offspring. My fingers will have to work doubly hard in the next couple of weeks to keep up with all the ideas my brain keeps throwing at me but I know that if there’s one thing I have, it’s remarkably fast hands.

In honor of that day when people think it’s okay to get mushy…

ImageSitting in the common room pretending to do proper school work, I found myself distracted by the theme of the day as I tried to remember what happened around this time last year. Now, everyone who knows me knows that I don’t give a hoot about so-called valentine’s day but I remember that each time it rolled around I’d tease my dad about what his plans for mum would be. Now, I am struggling to remember the details of our last valentine’s day bout, and all I can really remember is that he was laughing – as usual – and assuring me that he had it all in hand. The man was quite lucky to be married to a no frills lady though, you have to give him that. Every year, when it was time for valentine or her birthday, he’d pull something out of his hat which I ALWAYS considered too little, but which always pleased his wife.

This year however, we can’t have our regular valentine’s day chat. With me harassing him to do something and him telling me to take it easy with all the guys ‘oh!’. But somehow, I think I can still hear his laughter anyway. I may be having that conversation all by myself this year but his input is still ever so valuable. Happy Valentine’s Day to all our friends, family and lovers. I think the one thing I learned from Actor is that it’s not about the size of the gifts, it’s just about really knowing the people you care about. I will allow myself to be one of the mushy ones this year. Hell, I might even send out an e-card or two (probably NOT).

Three months gone and he still makes me laugh with his crazy comments. Thank you for my sense of humour Dad.

 

The day the earth stood still…

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Actor and his leading lady

 

I have wondered how to start writing this and what to write. The only thing I knew for sure was that I had a title. Now, about this day… It was a pretty ordinary day to be honest. There were no thunderstorms; there was no fire and/or brimstone that would hint at the impending doom. I was going about my business in my usual way, attending classes and trying to make friends, when it happened. It was one of those moments you’ve thought of; the one that you always say, “if that happened to me, I’d…”. Well it happened to me. I won’t lie, I used to think that if it happened to me, I would stop breathing; or I’d suffer a cardiac incident and it would be over. Well, I tried, I really tried to stop breathing; I tried to force a cardiac event; I even contemplated taking a clichéd dive in front of a bus. But none of that happened. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? Why did the earth stand still, you ask? The answer is simple. Actor had his last scene that day. He went on his final road trip. He made his last stand. And my world stopped spinning. Instead, my head started spinning. Now, you don’t want to be in a world where you spin and the earth sits on its humungous ass do you? I certainly never wanted to be in such a world, and here I find myself, still struggling to jumpstart the rotation of my little world. It may seem a little crazy, but you see, he was the center of my world. He made everything just that much better even when he made it worse. He gave me a positive outlook on life that was impossible to crack. With him around, I just knew nothing could go wrong, EVER. And now, I have to somehow get used to a world without him in it? I don’t know how I am supposed to do that yet. Everyone says “be strong”; ”he was a great man”; “no one has a bad word to say about him”, but I could give them a few bad words. Hell, I could give them a whole bucket of bad words that would make even a sailor blush. Some of them are directed at Actor, and some of them are directed at that omniscient, omnipresent being we know as God.

In a world so filled with hatred and despair, do I really need to add my two cents? Do I really need to have this dark seed growing in me, filling me with a cold cynicism that I fear I will never be able to shake? Isn’t the world bad enough? Did we really need to lose one of the only people that made it worth getting up in the morning, just so you could tell him you did? Well, I am not going to go into that darkness now. All I can say is that the earth stood and I am still waiting for it to start spinning again. I don’t know when it will happen or if I will just end up spinning out of control…

I know it is customary to welcome comments, but honestly, for this, I would welcome silence. I have heard everything anyone could possibly think of to say and I have said to myself the things that no one can think of, and even things that people are afraid to say. And now, silence truly is golden.

Climate Change Chronicles (pt 1)

With a fancy title like “Climate Change Chronicles” I’m sure there are expectations for some kind of salute to the environment and that silent killer – GLOBAL WARMING… well, I put that in all CAPS so that’s enough of a salute. If I confessed that I was taking time out of some crucial work to put down this blog post, I wonder if lightening will strike me (well I just won’t confess).

Now, back to our fancy title… You see *she said conspiratorially* it all started a little over two weeks ago when I uprooted myself from my humble abode and set out on a journey of discovery (appropriate thematic music plays in the background). In truth, our story begins many years ago when our heroine had grande dreams of self-discovery and such and such, but let’s not get into all that now. So, a couple of weeks ago, a message came through and off I was to that very land where self-discovery was imminent (according to the brochures), and so I packed my bags and baggages (as our people say) and took the next available flight to the land of ‘just enough’, ye olde England! I wonder if I should bore you with tales of airplane food and a lonely Frankfurt airport in the middle of the night but I have decided in my infinite wisdom, to leave all that to your fertile imagination (maybe in an upcoming ‘travel’ post…). 

Anyway, here I arrived on a cold and crisp Sunday morning, wondering if this was all an elaborate dream (nightmare?) and I would click my heels thrice and find myself back in my apartment sweating because PHCN had decided to play fast and loose with the electricity. But NO, it was all too real, I had arrived in the coveted ‘white man’s land’ with nothing but my wits and a few pounds to hold me. While waiting in line for the immigration officer to talk down to me, I began to work out the details of my future in my head, wondering if it would start with a notice that there was something wrong with my visa and end with me being deported (kicking and screaming, of course) after seeing a glimmer of the promised land through the bars of my cell (yes, in my imagination there was a cell!). Unfortunately for my overactive imagination though, there was no such thing. You cannot possibly imagine my disappointment when the immigration officer was completely polite and even joked about something or the other, as I watched my planned resentment fizzle out before my very eyes. After that, I was pretty disarmed, and ready to accept my new masters, for the next two minutes anyway. 

After this disarming immigration officer, the next highlight of my arrival was the fact that I was going to see my brother, the one we call “Bros”, whose presence at the homestead had been demanded and then pleaded for by his very loving parents over the years. I was glowing at the thought that I would now be an authority on the welfare of Bros as the only source of first hand information to the folks back home (I take my victories where I can get them). Having retrieved my property from baggage claim, I walked out to meet Bros, remembering those days when I used to run and jump in his arms whenever he deemed it right to grace us with his presence. I wondered if there would be any squeals of delight or running this time, I seriously considered running AND squealing, but ultimately decided to ‘act my age’ and not embarrass him or any onlookers with any gushing emotion.

And so, I walked into the arrivals terminal, and there Bros was, I must admit there was a little squealing but very little running or jumping. I will tell you though, that there is nothing quite like a familiar and welcoming presence to take the edge off arriving alone in a foreign land with no way back and your family’s expectations weighing you down like a ton of bricks. 

(more to come at an as yet undetermined future date)